2005 Indianapolis 500

I never have considered myself a bandwagon jumper or a fair-weather fan, but I have always enjoyed watching Sam Hornish Jr. race, which is the main reason I am pulling for him in tomorrow’s race. I am not really sure why I latched onto Sam; I guess it is just one of those things where he was winning when I started watching the IRL, and winners get lots of exposure, so I was able to focus on Sam. In much the same way I latched onto Jacques Villenueve when I started watching F1 even though Damon Hill was the eventual Champion, so I have to think I am not all about bandwagons. The same goes for Jeff Gordon – he was winning when I started watching racing in 1995, so he was getting tons of press, plus I had to pull for someone that was close to my age when all the other Winston Cup mainstays were closer to my uncle’s age.

Anyway, I am going to be pulling for Hornish and the Penske team tomorrow, but all eyes will be focused on Danica Patrick, who starts on the 2nd row (4th position). Admit it – you are pulling for Danica to do well. If she does well, then the face of racing forever changes.

I do not follow the IRL enough – when I watch races, I always enjoy them, but I do not find anything compelling enough to make me *want* to watch the events. Shame on me? Maybe, but a few years ago I argued that the IRL needed to become more like NASCAR and really put an emphasis on the personality of its drivers in order for the IRL to capture the public’s imagination. I still feel that way; besides the occasional article on Hornish, and now all the focus on Patrick, the IRL continues to fail to fly the banner for its drivers. NASCAR may rule the roost, but so many of NASCAR’s top drivers have come from open wheel racing that the IRL has to learn to market its product better.

For the last several years I have watched the Indy 500, as I will tomorrow (God willing), and as I have for the last few years (except for Michael Andretti’s last 500) I will pull for Hornish. Regardless of who wins, I hope for dry weather, an exciting race, a photo finish, and for the IRL media types to finally capitalize on the personalities behind the wheel.

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6 thoughts on “2005 Indianapolis 500”

  1. I dislike Sam Hornish intensely, and I haven’t the faintest idea why. I am, however, hoping Danica does well – I saw her race over here a couple of times and she never looked like going a lot further up the ladder, so it’s heartening to see that she managed to find her way to the top on merit.

    Who am I kidding – she’s a heck of a marketing opportunity, isn’t she? Got some speed to go with it, but still…

    Won’t see the race as I’ll be in Cardiff watching my beloved HUFC in the play-off final (which also means missing the Grand Prix) but a win for Super Dario and Michael Andretti would be nice.

    Cheers,
    Adam

  2. Danica’s going to crash or have a mechanical. When I’m rooting this hard for somebody they always go out early. There’s also a lot of very good veterans in the field if she stays in it, but she has good racecraft and is pretty patient.

    I cannot say I’m following the Indycar series with great interest these days, but somebody whose judgement I trust is picking the AGR guys, and sharp and schekter are the dark horses.

  3. geoffp – "Danica’s going to crash or have a mechanical."
    Geoff, at a commercial break right now … Danica has shown well except for the pit stop issue/blunder (which ever it happened to be). The AGR boys are looking good, but I am still pulling hard for Hornish who has looked great so far. Keeping my fingers crossed!

  4. Adam – "I dislike Sam Hornish intensely, and I haven’t the faintest idea why."
    Funny. I feel the same way about JPM; no reason not to like him since he did well in the US in CART and won the 500, but I do not like JPM.

    "I am, however, hoping Danica does well – I saw her race over here a couple of times and she never looked like going a lot further up the ladder, so it’s heartening to see that she managed to find her way to the top on merit.

    Who am I kidding – she’s a heck of a marketing opportunity, isn’t she? Got some speed to go with it, but still…"
    That she is, that she is. If she shows well (and she is Top 10 right now), and the IRL does not market her, then it will be an opportunity lost. Kind of like how I always used to fuss at the MLS – those guys have no idea how to market their league.

  5. I realize Danica has been overhyped, but her description of her race, in such plain language and mentioning the rookie mistakes first, was pretty refreshing. She drove a great race for her first 500 & didnt get rattled over the stall and the spin behind the pace car.

    In the post race interviews she had a great quote (I"m paraphrasing): "I had a good race for anybody. I came from the back twice. It SUCKS back there"….hehe.

  6. Geoff – When Danica had the spin I told my wife "Now we can just explain that away as a woman drive did not go over well, but I agree that it was very refreshing that Danica talked about her mistakes. Danica drove a hell of a race; if you consider all the pressure that she had on her then it is very hard not to be impressed.

    My wife actually watched some of the race here and there, which in and of itself was refreshing. :)

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